Monday, February 23, 2015

Savory Sausage and Vegetable Gravy with Cheese Grits

Somehow we skipped a meal yesterday, a rare occurrence around here. Our very late breakfast meant sliding lunch into late-afternoon, and then we weren't hungry enough to eat dinner before turning in for the evening. Much later the tummy-rumble chorus started up loud and strong, signaling that it had been a l-o-n-g time between meals. Finally I couldn't ignore those increasingly annoying, noisy stomach gurgles and the impending threat of hunger pangs, either real or imagined. Fine! back downstairs to the kitchen to build a snack plate to share. We nibbled on stacked pear and cheese slices layered with a touch of jam, light fare but it quieted my growling stomach for the evening. Today I woke up hungry! eager for something savory, substantial and maybe even healthy

A sensible version of Cheese Grits qualified as substantial; sensible? well, they were cooked in water with no added milk or cream. I did add modest amounts of butter and cheese, forgoing my usual heavy hand with both of these ingredients, and doubled up the hot sauce for flavor instead. Sort-of-healthy?

Sweet mini peppers, some white onion, cremini mushrooms, lacinato kale and assorted seasonings joined bits of smoky sausage in a loose beef stock sauce. That took care of savory and healthy, with added bonus points for the gravy coming together quickly while the grits bubbled away on another burner. 

One heaping scoop of tempting, cheesy grits covered with a generous serving of the sausage and vegetable gravy, topped with a sprinkle of smoked salt and freshly ground pepper, made a deliciously filling breakfast bowl. OMG it was good! Both elements were tasty enough alone on a spoon, but a blended spoonful was terrific. The combination of smooth and crunchy textures, smoky and spicy flavors, plus pops of neon bright colors made this dish a two-thumbs-up winner.  I'll cheerfully make this again for breakfast... or lunch... or supper, ashore and afloat. C'mon by and join me for some grits and savory sausage and vegetable gravy - and don't pass up the hot sauce.

Savory Sausage and Vegetable Gravy

2 counts olive oil
1 link smoked sausage (I used Kielbasa today)
4 mini sweet peppers
1/2 cup sweet onion
4 large cremini mushrooms
1 cup lacinato kale, rinsed & deribbed
3 fat cloves garlic, smashed or chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of ground ancho or chipotle chili pepper
pinch of smoky paprika (pimenton)
1 heaping Tablespoon AP flour
1 cup low sodium beef broth (more as required)
Optional ingredients:
  smoked salt
  hot sauce, to taste (I like Cajun Sunshine or Chipotle Tabasco)
  Creamy Cheese Grits, cooked with dairy or water

  1. Slice the sausage lengthwise into quarters, then chop crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Dice the peppers, onion and mushrooms into pieces roughly the same size as the sausage. Chop the kale into bite-sized shreds.
  2. Add a two-count of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet and warm over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage bits and cook to heat through and brown slightly, releasing any oils. Add the vegetables and garlic; saute until softened but not crispy. 
  3. Stir in the oregano, thyme, ground black pepper and smoky paprika; heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the pan; toss and stir to incorporate. Slowly add the broth and whisk or stir to blend thoroughly. Continue heating and stirring until gravy thickens and is smooth. Cook longer to thicken the gravy; add more broth if it seems too thick. Taste, adjust seasonings, add hot sauce to desired level of heat.
  4. Serve over Creamy Cheese Grits, sprinkle with smoked salt and pass the hot sauce. Enjoy!  

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